Protests paralyze Nepal government headquarters; police fires at leaders
While Maoist protests on Thursday completely paralyzed Nepal government headquarters at Singha Durbar in Kathmandu, the security personnel deployed at the South Gate of Singhadurbar fired at senior Maoist leaders Dev Gurung, Ananta and Amik Sherchan. According to Radio Mirmire, more than 60 others were injured with rubber bullets and tear gas shells.
Nepal’s Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal was unable to attend his office as thousands of Maoist protesters besieged the government headquarters from eight different locations.
Out of 46 ministers in the government, only four were in their office, the government-owned Nepal Television reported. The four ministers had furtively entered their complex at 04:00, four hours before the Maoist protesters began to appear on roads. Not a single minister belonging to the prime minister’s party—UML—was able to come to office, reports confirm.
To further reinforce the protests, film artists, singers, musicians and literary figures had also staged their programs on roads. Maoists—now in the UN-monitored peace process—have been staging renewed protests for seven months with a demand of parliamentary discussion on President Dr. Ram Baran Yadav’s overruling of the sacking of the then Army Chief Rookmangud Katawal by the elected Prime Minister Prachanda.
Media reports in May 2009 show the Army Chief used parallel executive power by defying the elected government’s orders. This had led the then Prime Minister Prachanda to take actions against him. After President Dr. Yadav, though without any executive power, reinstated the Army Chief sacked by the Maoist-led government, Maoist Chairman Prachanda resigned his prime ministership stating that he wanted to avoid violence likely to result out of parallel rules.
Maintaining civilian supremacy—making the country’s army generals work under the elected government as Maoists clarify—has been the protesters’ principal demand which the current alliance of 22 parties (most of them with only one seat in the parliament) has rejected.
Civil Society members have suggested the government to allow the issue of civilian supremacy to be discussed in the parliament. However, the coalition partners have adopted an exclusionary approach against the Maoists, who stood the largest political party in the Constituent Assembly elections held on 10 April 2008.
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